By Neely Bardwell
At the Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, a new exhibit has just opened which features an exhibition of Indigenous artists, Portrait Royalhighlighting the importance of Indigenous matriarchs by reinventing regalia and portraits.
The artist, Morgan Asoyuf, is an artist from the Ts’msyen Eagle Clan of Ksyeen River (Prince Rupert area), British Columbia, Canada. Asoyuf, 38, has quite a list of experience. She first earned a fashion design certificate from the Blanche Macdonald Center (Vancouver, BC) before apprenticed with woodcarvers Henry Green (Tsm’syen) and Phil Gray. She also apprenticed with woodcarver Richard Adkins (Haida).
She also studied bronze casting and even earned diplomas in jewelry design and stone carving from the Vancouver Metal Art School. Asoyuf even completed an intensive gem setting program at Revere Academy.
His work has previously been featured in places such as Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, Museum of Vancouver, Steinbrueck Native Gallery
In Asoyuf’s exhibition, she revisits the crowns, scepter, cloaks and jewels that identify leaders to confront the traditional societal structures that exist. She uses jewelry and photography to shift the view of the balance of power towards that of the matriarch.
Asoyuf features indigenous matriarchs and activists in full dress.
In Ts’msyen culture, matriarchs hold a special position of high rank that can be both compared and contrasted to the Western concept of kingship. It is the job of the matriarchs to ensure that their community and their lands are taken care of.
“Today there is a lot of confusion and struggle in our communities to make these important decisions, especially regarding land,” Asoyuf writes. “Colonial governments and modern tribal councils often fail to respect these inherent rights.”
Issues such as Return to the Land, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Two-Spirit People, and Environmental Sovereignty, are important movements that Asoyuf strives to bring attention to through his work.
Never miss the biggest stories and breaking news from Indian Country. Sign up to receive our reports straight to your inbox every weekday morning.
“This is a critical time for our people to create conversations around traditional societal structures, power and leadership,” Asoyuf said. “We need to properly recognize our matriarchs.”
His exhibition will be presented at the Metal Museum Keeler Gallery by September 25.
More stories like this
What’s Happening in Indian Country: July 21-29
Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial celebrates its centenary
Minnesota celebrates Owamni Day
“Daughter of a Lost Bird” and the Complexities of Indigenous Identity
Do you enjoy an Indigenous perspective on the news?
For the past decade and more, we’ve covered important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and delinquent accounts related to assimilation, cultural genocide and at Indian Residential Schools, we were there to provide an Indigenous perspective and elevate Indigenous voices.
Our short stories are free to read for everyone, but they are not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to donate this month to support our efforts. Any contribution – large or small – helps us to remain a force for change in Indian Country and to continue to tell the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked. Most often, our donors make a one-time donation of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10. Whatever you can do helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Indigenous news.
Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thanks.